Smoked Eel with Bacon and Mashed Potatoes

“Being Australian I love working with seafood. I would love everyone to eat more eel, give them something comfortable yet keep them on the edge of their seat. I generally stay close to this Fergus Henderson recipe.” –Christopher Hyde, head chef, Uccellino

1 whole smoked eel, reasonably large
4¼-4½ lbs floury potatoes, such as Idaho russets, peeled and halved
sea salt
2½ c milk
1½ sticks (12 T) unsalted butter plus an extra knob
freshly-ground black pepper
6 rashers smoked streaky bacon, sliced thick

To prepare your eel, first lay it down with its back facing you. With a sharp knife cut behind its head until you feel the backbone, then run your knife along the bone to the tail. Turn over and repeat. To remove the skin, simply slip your fingers under it and run gently along the fillet. Cut both fillets into 3 pieces. (Smoked eel is also available packaged in fillets.)

Boil your potatoes until soft in salted water. Heat the milk and butter, then add to the drained potatoes and mash. Season with salt and pepper, remembering that the bacon is quite salty.

Heat a frying pan and add the knob of butter. Place your bacon slices in the pan and cook. Remove the bacon, keep it warm, and place the eel fillets in the pan, giving them a few moments cooking on either side in the butter and the fat the bacon should have released.

Serve the eel on a mound of mashed potatoes, topped with 2 slices of bacon, over which pour the remaining bacon and eel fat from the frying pan.

Serves 4.